Leadership & Social Change in Panama

Leadership & Social Change in Panama — About

About Leadership & Social Change in Panama

Isla Bastimentos is a beautiful island in the Bocas del Toro Province in Panama. This island is located in a national marine park (Parque Nacional Marinas Isla Bastimentos) and home to several indigenous communities.

Course Description

This course focuses on the historical roots of the social issues affecting Panama. You will examine past leadership and what type of leadership is needed for the country to move forward. The course places a strong emphasis on personal leadership exploration and provides opportunity for you to reflect on questions such as, “How do individual leaders engage with others to affect change for the common or public good?”, “What are the ramifications of oppressive leadership?”, “What are the social change strategies that lead to long-term systemic change?”, and “How can one individual, an ordinary citizen, take action to make a difference?”.

The challenging leadership journey of University of Minnesota alumni who established a high-end resort on the island will be emphasized. You will engage in the story of how these ordinary United States citizens navigated bureaucracy in a foreign country, backlash from some of the indigenous communities, and unique cultural and social barriers to business.

Through guided reflection, guest lectures, site visits, and research, students will

Students will also identify a social issue that is important to them, and how they will engage in the issues upon their return.

Housing & Meals

 Students will live in shared accommodations with access to a kitchen. Some meals will be included as part of excursions. 


Excursions may include visits to: San Cristobal Island Monkey Tour, La Loma Jungle Lodge and Chocolate Farm, Finca Los Monos Botanical Gardens, Floating Doctors, US Embassy, Isla Zapatillas National Park, Excursion to Costa Rica, Panama Canal & Museum, Zip Line Tour, Casco Viejo (historic area in Panama City)

Group Flight

All program participants will be taking the coordinated group flight to and from the program site. The cost of the group flight is included in the program fee that will be posted to your student account. Do not book your own flight, you will recieve information from the Learning Abroad Center regarding your seat on the group flight once your participation has been confirmed. 

Learning Outcomes

Faculty & Staff

This Global Seminar is led by June Nobbe, Director of Leadership Education and Development–Undergraduate Programs (LEAD-UP), Assistant Vice Provost for Student Life, and Coordinator and Instructor for the Undergraduate Leadership Minor.